Trying to predict the future within any industry can be risky. After all, no one really saw the 2020 pandemic coming until it already arrived. But something interesting is that senior living appears to be weathering the economic crisis fairly well. Though occupancy rates and new move-ins went down, the move-outs are still holding steady. And a lot of that has to do with how general contractors, investors, and developers responded to counter the adverse impacts. Now, with senior housing proving itself as a resilient industry, new opportunities are arising, which make for some exciting predictions that will likely be a reality within 2021.
Leveraging Technology for More Connection
Perhaps you can consider COVID-19 for pushing this effort, but the future of senior living indeed appears more connected than it has been in the past. From zoom meetings, virtual tours to video chats with family and friends, this trend stemmed from the 2020 pandemic and one that is more than likely going to stay long after COVID-19 is gone. But this also means that developers and general contractors have to ensure that Wi-Fi is upgraded and speeds are able to accommodate the rising demands for this connection. This also includes the implementation of things like:
· Motion controls or voice controls
· Voice assistance, like the Amazon Echo
· Google home to become digital schedule reminders for seniors
· Wearable smart technology, such as smartwatches to monitor health and call loved ones
Operations Designed Around Wellness
Senior living communities have been migrating away from the “care first” mindset to a wellness one for quite a while now. Though general contractors and architects have listened and designed housing layouts to be more welcoming, homely, and brighter with integrating more windows into the structures, 2021 looks to have even more plans to prioritize wellness. For example, 60% of respondents from an International Council on Active Aging study said that their retirement communities would be based on a full wellness lifestyle by 2023. To accomplish this, these programs will likely see a drastic increase by 2021 and on:
· Lifelong education and learning
· Instructor and technology-led exercise programs
· Disease management and health education
· Nutrition education and food preparation
· Intergenerational programs, linking both youth and older adults together
Telehealth May Be Here to Stay
Though telehealth was pushed to optimize people’s safety from the global pandemic, it has proven to be a valuable resource overall, regardless of COVID-19. It is a faster, more effective way for seniors to consult with their doctors without needs to burden themselves with the hassle of having to travel to the office. Going forward into 2021, telehealth has poised itself to become even more user-friendly and widely adopted. And what is even better is that it allows seniors to be evaluated much sooner when underlying symptoms begin to surface.
2021 and Beyond
Current times are challenging and not exactly predictable as a whole. However, predictions may just be predictions, they are based on some merit in holding some truth and probability. For this particular sector, it is all about how developers and general contractors responded to not only the economic changes but what seniors desire as well. By considering every aspect and cultivating solutions to accommodate both, it is what has allowed senior living facilities to remain strong in the long run. Pandemic or not, the evolution of senior housing and the increased demand from the Boomer generation for technology have all shaped senior living to what it has become today and will continue to do so well into the future.
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